Ourense and La Ribeira Sacra

Despite the uninspiring backdrop of Ourense’s new town, Galicia’s third-largest city has bubbling thermal springs and an attractive medieval quarter whose animated streets, tapas bars, and plazas come alive on weekends. A scattering of notable historical monuments includes the colossal arches of the Ponte Vella spanning the River Miño and the 13th-century Cathedral of San Martino. Ourense is a good starting point for exploring the surrounding dramatic landscapes of the Ribeira Sacra (Sacred Riverbank) and Cañon do Sil (Sil River Canyon). This less explored region of interior Galicia is dotted with vineyards, Romanesque churches, and monasteries. Well worth a visit or a short stay is the Parador de Santo Estevo, converted from the Benedictine 10th-century Monasterio de Santo Estevo and perched high above the spectacular scenery of the Cañon do Sil.

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